In October of 1864, 2,500 Union cavalry routed 7,500 Confederates in Kansas and beat them decisively. If you knew that fact before reading it, then Secrets of the Civil War is probably the DVD collection for you. This four-disc collection is from the History Channel and consists of nine documentaries that have already aired on TV. It is an excellent collection, but it's not going to thrill anyone who doesn't have a passion for history. Personally, I found it fascinating.
Now, calling this set "Secrets" is a little misleading, which I'm sure is deliberate. That name makes it sound more intriguing, but the documentaries are not all supposed to be full of new revelations; they simply cover very specific subjects of the American civil war. They are not, technically, even part of the same History Channel series, but their subjects make them ideal for this box set.
The quality of these features is good, just as any of us who watch the History Channel expect. They consist of a lot of narration and voice-overs, both from the main narrators and from the myriad historians and experts that are interviewed on-screen to try to piece together everything that happened in the great conflict of the 1860's. A lot of the video consists of still photographs and maps, but there is footage of reenactments, too. These tend to be relatively low-quality, but the viewer can forgive that in light of the interesting historical facts that the reenactments are shedding light on.
This is typical History Channel stuff. Take it or leave it.
Part 1 "The Most Daring Mission of the Civil War"
Part 2 "April 1865: The Month that Saved America"
Part 3 "Battlefield Detectives: The Civil War: Antietam"
Part 4 "Battlefield Detectives: The Civil War: Gettysburg"
Part 5 "Battlefield Detectives: The Civil War: Shiloh"
Part 6 "Secret Missions of the Civil War"
Part 7 "Investigating History: The Lost Battle of the Civil War"
Part 8 "Tales of the Gun: Guns of the Civil War"
Part 9 "80 Acres of Hell"
All of these documentaries are worth watching, and, for any of you who are not history experts, they will no doubt give you so much Civil War information that you can't process it in one viewing. For those of you who already know a lot of this stuff, the History Channel has done their homework to bring together experts who shine new light on these old events.
Secrets of the Civil War is contained on four discs. A cardboard slip contains two standard-sized DVD cases, each containing two discs. The content adds up to about 9 hours and 53 minutes. There is absolutely nothing on the discs except for the nine main features.
There are no subtitles.
This is a big set that will last any Civil War buff a while, unless that buff has already recorded these off cable. The History Channel has done a great job, as usual, but the DVD's are not the most stellar quality possible. That really doesn't matter though, as the type of person who wants to know about history enough to watch this whole series would probably just as soon read up on it.
If you're still reading this far into my review, then you probably already know that this DVD collection is for you. "Recommended."